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Friday, June 13, 2008

Flashback Friday: Buggles - Plastic Age

"As they drag you through the dark they tell you that you've failed the test"

Perhaps the best pop band of the moment, Alphabeat, has on multiple occasions professed their love for the Buggles. So, I decided to take another look at their all-too-short back catalog. Of course, most of us know the band only because of Video Killed The Radio Star, but if you haven't listened to the accompanying albums I think you'd be really surprised at how many absolutely amazing pop songs they had. If you're a fan of Trevor Horn's production (and who isn't?), you will instantly love the Buggles because they are basically him (especially the second album, which he was almost completely responsible for). One of my favorite singles from the band is the first track on their first album. Plastic Age is all about the dramatic, sweeping chorus. I just love big bombastic music like this. There are, of course, so many more highlights on this album alone, including the very Scissor Sisters sounding Elstree and Clean, Clean. Basically, if you had previously written these guys off as one-hit-wonders, you've gotta give them another chance. As for the video for this song? They just don't make them like that anymore.

Buggles - Plastic Age (zshare)

(Music posted for evaluation purposes only. If you like what you hear, support the artists! Buy the album here.)

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Video Premiere: Kite - Ways To Dance

Brilliant brilliant brilliant. God I love this band. This is one of my favorite singles of the year, and the video is utterly captivating in its strange simplicity.

The Fratellis - A Heady Tale

"Gypsy blood will get you far"

What is it with these seemingly great UK bands and their crappy second albums? After delivering a near flawless debut, unfortunately the Fratellis can be added to the list that includes Kaiser Chiefs, Hard-Fi, the Kooks and probably many more that I can't think of right now. It's the second-album syndrome... bands that burst onto the scene with a string of amazing hit singles and then piss it all away with a completely unremarkable second album. It just proves how hard it is to create something like a You See Colours, Tired Of Hanging Around, or Razorlight. Hell, even a Ta-Dah is enough to keep the momentum going. The most frustrating thing about these non-albums is that they are almost always preceded by a really good single, effectively bridging the gap between the brilliant and the so-so. In the Fratellis' case, there are fortunately a few great tracks on the new album that almost make up for the huge amount of filler that exists in the record's latter half. A Heady Tale is among the best... a complete party starter with boogie piano that Elton would be proud of. It is the most instant thing on the album and may just be enough to keep the momentum going until the got-to-be-better third release.

The Fratellis - A Heady Tale (zshare)

(Music posted for evaluation purposes only. If you like what you hear, support the artists! Buy the album here.)

** No post tomorrow, as I'll be on the road. See you on Friday!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

2-4 Grooves - Writing On The Wall (St. Elmo's Fire)

"I can feel St. Elmo's fire burning in me"

I don't often post straight up dance/club tracks, and I certainly don't post many covers, but today I'm making an exception. I've been on a real 80's kick recently (I know, I was born on an 80's kick, but this is even more than usual), so despite this duo's lame-ass band name, despite the inherent cheesiness, I have been obsessed with this track for the past few days. I generally prefer my dance music to be original, but I do love it when an artist takes a semi-forgotten gem from the 80's, retains the sound and spirit, but brings it into the new millenium alive and kicking. This track is the perfect example of that. Take a campy yet ultra-catchy song from the past and amp it up for the dancefloor, at the same time revelling in its cheesiness. This song looks like it's gonna take Scandinavia by storm. My money's on the UK next.

2-4 Grooves - Writing On The Wall (St. Elmo's Fire) (zshare)

(Music posted for evaluation purposes only. If you like what you hear, support the artists! Buy the EP here.)

Monday, June 09, 2008

2008 Mid-Year Report:
The 10 Albums You Must Own!

It’s that time of year again where I try my best to summarize the past six months in music. Unlike last year, and Laakso’s still brilliant release, I don’t think we’ve seen 2008’s album of the year quite yet. There have been quite a few great releases, but nothing that totally owns that title. In fact, so far I’d say 2008 has been more of a year of fantastic singles than albums. Also, I’ve got to acknowledge two albums that are not eligible for my list, but quality-wise would be right at the top if they were. Following Robyn’s success last year, both Alphabeat and September have had massive breakthroughs internationally. I’ve followed both artists for a long time now and I’m over the moon at their success, but barring a few tracks I’ve already heard their albums before 2008. Scandinavian crossover success is definitely a 2008 trend that I hope to see continue on into the future. The Ark and Melody Club… when are people going to notice you?? Another welcome (and unexpected) trend is actually happening right here in the States. Some of those r&b singers that I despise so much (they have all but hijacked radio here for the past decade) are starting to release really good, more pop-oriented summer tracks (see Ne-Yo’s Closer and Chris Brown’s Forever). Who would have thought? We’ll see when Ne-Yo’s new album comes out this summer if it’s just a one-off or if pop is actually going to get interesting again on this side of the Atlantic. Anyways, on to the list!

Top Tier

Delays - Everything’s The Rush
Switching it up ever-so-slightly on their third release, my favorite UK band continue to impress with another album of pop stunners. (UK)
MGMT - Oracular Spectacular
An unexpected masterpiece of off-kilter pop and rock that has proven to have the most longevity so far this year. (USA)

Next Tier

Juvelen - 1
The long-awaited debut from this Swedish wonder child… chock full of amazing singles and singles-to-be. (Sweden)
Kaka - Kaka
Another greatest-hits worthy debut from ex The Mo keyboardist. Surprisingly self-assured and unique. (Sweden)
Eskobar - Death In Athens
The best release of this band’s career by a mile… shows what a little tempo can do for a band who was always on the verge of brilliance. (Sweden)

Next Tier

Bryan Scary & The Shredding Tears - Flight Of The Knife
Terminally fun rock opera concept album that sounds like it’s straight from the 70’s… in the best possible way. (USA)
Surferosa - The Beat On The Street
These guys just keep getting better and better. Lead single The Future was a red herring… the rest of the album is far more brilliant. (Norway)
Walter Meego - Voyager
Probably the best dance album of the year so far… eternally indebted to the 80’s with a strong glam edge. (USA)

Next Tier

Janet Jackson - Discipline
Despite the fact that people seem to be done with her, this was the diva comeback album of the year... And her best in years. (USA)
Neon Neon - Stainless Style
Fantastic 80‘s inspired release… would have been much higher if not for those stupid rap tracks. (UK/USA)
Runners-up: Jean - Jean, Royworld - Man In The Machine, Guillemots - Red, Pacific! - Reveries, Your Vegas - A Town & Two Cities

And the tracks:

1. Delays - Keep It Simple
Apparently some folks think this song is somewhat “blah.” I find nothing blah-worthy about the gorgeous verses.
2. MGMT - Of Moons, Birds & Monsters
A throwback, nearly psychedelic sound mixed with the poppy melodies of 70’s Fleetwood Mac.
3. Juvelen - Money Don’t Talk
An 80’s electro freakout with some seriously catchy hooks… may sound like a mess at first but give it time.
4. Kaka - Ball & Chain, Darling
Delightfully quirky electro pop song with his unique trademark sound.
5. Eskobar - You Can’t Hear Me
Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous chorus.
6. Bryan Scary & The Shredding Tears - The Purple Rocket
From glam to psychedelic to Beach Boys in four minutes… it’s one hell of a ride.
7. Surferosa - Get Up! Get Up! Get Up!
No Doubt would have killed for this track, but Surferosa wrote it first. Insanely catchy from the get-go.
8. Walter Meego - Baby Please
Swirling, summertime retro dance music with enough bass to shake the house.
9. Janet Jackson - 2nite
Since apparently we’re getting no more singles, I might as well post this should-have-been-number-one.
10. Neon Neon - Belfast
Beautiful 80’s styled synth track that probably wouldn’t have been out of place on Superfamily’s brilliant 2007 album.

Download each individually, or if you want the perfect soundtrack to kick off your summer, download the whole CD in a rar file!

Also, I’ve got to take a second to highlight the three best EP’s of 2008 (so far). I’ve got my eye on full-length releases from the Galvatrons, Kite and Hotel Motel because each artist could easily end up creating my number one album of this year!

And lastly, don’t forget to get ahold of the two best reissues of 2008, which if they were eligible would easily make my top 5.

View 2007's Mid-Year Report here!